Female Rangers and [Alleged] Lowered Standards

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No stranger to controversy or a contrary opinion, Chris Hernandez weighs in on the allegations of standard lowering in today’s OP-Ed. Mad Duo

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Female Rangers and [Alleged] Lowered Standards

Chris Hernandez

I’m not a Ranger. I’m not SF. I’m not a SEAL, Delta, or Recon. I’m not Airborne, Air Assault, and don’t even own Air Jordans. I’m just a former Marine reservist and Army National Guard Regular Guy. I served as a nobody-special convoy escort guy in Iraq and an even less special intel guy tagging along with infantry in Afghanistan. I don’t know jack or crap about Ranger School or what happened with the two recent female graduates.

However, as a cop of over twenty years, I know a little about evidence, facts, rumors, and plain old bullshit.

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Since Lieutenant Shaye Haver and Captain Kristen Griest successfully completed Ranger School, there has been an uproar from portions of the military and veteran community. Certain veterans, including one who wrote an article for Breach Bang Clear, insist Ranger School standards must have been lowered in order for a female to pass. Others including a West Point Graduate and former Ranger School cadre, a member of the Ranger School class the females started with, and the XO of the Ranger and Airborne Training Brigade, have published articles debunking the “lowered standards” accusations. Those men were there and/or know how Ranger School works, and they say the women honestly passed. Not surprisingly, their opinions are being ignored by those who are certain the women were given breaks.

After Breach Bang Clear posted the “Death of Ranger School” essay, and Ranger Up published an article pointing out how Ranger School peer reviews nullify the claims of special treatment, I read through the comments to both essays. Many were based on circular conspiracy-theory logic that absolves critics of the requirement to back their position with facts and reason.

“I’m sure they [the female Rangers’ classmates] all signed NDA’s.”

“If anyone believes that any fellow classmates will commit career suicide by being honest they aren’t facing reality. No coercion on those peer evals? Call me cynical.”

“Only a few can tell for sure if standards were upheld. Sadly, NDAs will prevent that.”

“I’m sure these two soldiers would have been given a million opportunities to graduate because they are female.”

“I guarantee just like every other experiment in the Army everyone had to sign non-disclosure agreements.”

“If they were part of peer review you know they got passed by the fellow students, why??? Because they don’t wanna be ‘the bigot’ or the ‘sexist’”.

“Come on Ranger-up, you should know better than anyone that with the right kind of pull even things like peer review don’t matter. The powers in charge wanted women to pass Ranger School, nobody is going to sacrifice their career by disagreeing.”

“I’ve heard of sucking dick for rank but how much do you have to suck for a Ranger tab?? Only two people on earth know and they won’t tell!”

As I said, I’m no Ranger. But I always believed Rangers were stand-up guys. Even when I was a Marine and thought almost everyone in the Army was a joke, I still respected the Rangers. If I’m in a fight and have Rangers beside me, I know I’m in good shape because they won’t back down. But I guess I’m the only person who feels that way. All these people insisting standards were lowered obviously think Rangers aren’t worth crap.

Why do so many people suddenly believe that Rangers, the same guys who climbed Pointe du Hoc and fought their way out of Mogadishu, are too afraid to stand up to political pressure?

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Here’s why I think Lieutenant Haver and Captain Griest passed Ranger School fair and square: because Ranger School is run by fucking Rangers. There is no other group of people in the Army who I expect to better uphold the standard than Rangers. In other units, including those I’ve served in, it’s common to hear things like “those weren’t Ranger pushups, but I’ll let you slide”. In regular units we cut breaks, but we know Rangers hold themselves to the standards. They’ve done it for decades. And if someone came around telling Ranger cadre to go easy on a “special” Ranger School candidate, I have no doubt the cadre would tell that person to go fuck themselves.

Conspiracy theories about lowered standards and NDAs don’t prove anything about what happened with Lieutenant Haver and Captain Griest. What they do prove is that the people making those accusations have no faith in the Ranger School cadre. Those accusers think that Rangers, the hardest soldiers we have, not only folded under pressure but are staying silent about that pressure. Those accusers think cadre (and students) know the truth, but not a single one has the integrity to stand up and announce “We were ordered to lower the standards and stay quiet about it, but I refuse to do it.”

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Looking at this from a cop’s perspective, on one side I see a former Ranger School cadre, a current Ranger School cadre, and a classmate of the two females all saying they attained the standards. Plus I have the long-standing reputation of Rangers as people who follow the standard to the letter. On the other side I see people who have no firsthand knowledge, no evidence, no logical point, no apparent ability to reason, no nothing other than their fanatical belief that it’s impossible for any woman to pass Ranger School.

So I can listen to the accusers and believe Ranger School cadre are all chickenshit cowards with no integrity who bent over and took it right in the ass when a politician ordered them to lower the standards. Or I can follow the evidence and accept that two badass female soldiers tried like hell for four months to pass the hardest school the Army has to offer, attained the standards, and accomplished an amazing feat.

Gee, which option should I choose?

Lieutenant Haver and Captain Griest, congratulations. I hope to shake your hands someday. I have nothing but respect for your drive, dedication, and effort. Well done, Rangers.

-CH

Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!

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breachbangclear.com_site_images_Chris_Hernandez_Author_BreachBangClear4Chris Hernandez Mad Duo Chris (seen here on patrol in Afghanistan) may just be the crustiest member of the eeeee-LIGHT writin’ team here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a veteran police officer of two decades who spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags & Dropped Rifles – the Real Truth About Working With the French Army and The Military Within the Military as well as the modern military fiction novels Line in the Valley and Proof of Our Resolve. When he isn’t groaning about a change in the weather and snacking on Osteo Bi-Flex he writes on his own blog, Iron Mike Magazine, Kit Up! and Under the Radar. You can find his author page here on Tactical 16.

Chris Hernandez

Chris Hernandez may just be the crustiest member of the eeeee-LITE writin’ team here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a veteran police officer of two decades who spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags & Dropped Rifles – the Real Truth About Working With the French Army and The Military Within the Military as well as the modern military fiction novels Line in the Valley, Proof of Our Resolve and Safe From the War. When he isn’t groaning about a change in the weather and snacking on Osteo Bi-Flex he writes on his own blog.


Chris Hernandez has 112 posts and counting. See all posts by Chris Hernandez

23 thoughts on “Female Rangers and [Alleged] Lowered Standards

  • September 16, 2015 at 10:27 am
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    In addition to the NDA, why at the conference only male butterbars from IBOLC and ect were present to speak to the equal treatment. Why were there no enlisted guys from regiment or big army, makes me wonder…

    Army times just release a story on their Facebook that Thier is still a female in school since her starting in April, that’s over 5 months, and there are rumors that they are/were given additional phase restarts.

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  • September 14, 2015 at 11:50 pm
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    I see an awful lot of comments as to how they made it through and Standards were Upheld being cried from every corner of this farce. Then why have a NDA to begin with? Funny if you find people willing to talk that haven’t been bought off or have something to lose if they open up, you hear a much different story. If you believe these chicks are now “Rangers” and that this is all on the up and up, then you are fools.

    David Buffamoyer 6-83

    B co C co 1/75 RGR. 82-86

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  • September 11, 2015 at 9:14 am
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    Big thanks to Mad Duo Chris for calling it as it is! Spoken like a crusty cop who questions everything and lets the evidence determine reality. Emotions have no place in establishing the truth, they will only cloud judgment.

    I know a SEAL (now Captain) who was very familiar with the Rangers, having cross-trained with them from time to time. He had high regards for their training and standards. In his words the Rangers were “real deal” soldiers.

    I agree with the author – I call bullshit that the Rangers manipulated the training program to be politically correct. I can tell you with certainty that if someone suggested that the SEAL’s altered their training to accommodate a “special” candidate, the SEAL I know would have a knife to their throat before the sound of their fart could be heard.

    So, like the author, let’s examine the facts:

    Both female Ranger graduates are West Point graduates. Selected out of over 20,000 applications to fill one of around 1300 coveted freshman spots at the Academy. They endured four years of intense collegiate and military training to graduate one of the finest higher education institutions in the country. With 18-20 hours of required college course work each semester, along with mandatory military training, and athletics, most cadets are studying or performing the equivalent of 30 hours of course work each semester. These are smart and dedicated women.

    One has already proven herself capable and intelligent enough to be promoted to Captain (at 25 years old).

    Both have tried Ranger School twice before but failed. Being allowed to try again is not favoritism, it is built into the program. One of my high school friends is now a Master Chief in Navy EOD. When he started the Navy he tried BUDs. He was a long distance swimmer in high school, and the water stuff was cake to him, but the long hikes caused shin splints, and he was medically washed. He was offered to come back with another class, but he opted to just stay in EOD. No favoritism.

    As for “prepping” the females to pass Ranger quals?! Is that even an argument? You’d be an idiot not to prepare yourself for such a grueling physical test – move on!

    19 women started this course – these 2 passed. That means 17 women were sent packing (along with more men). Doesn’t sound like the Rangers are too worried about hurting feelings.

    All the naysayers want to talk about NDA’s, but apparently if you look at the media reports there are plenty of classmates willing to talk – officers and enlisted. When the Sergeant Major of the Rangers commends these two women – you better be ready to shut your suck!

    One classmate talks of the first long hike where both women left several classmates in the dust. One talks about how both women offered to carry heavy gear when male counterparts were gassed.

    Finally, one instructor called these women “absolute physical studs”. Nuff said!

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/08/21/two-women-make-army-ranger-history/

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  • September 10, 2015 at 9:50 pm
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    I have never served and would never question anyone’s stamina, courage or heart.

    I’m curious over this result and the results of Marine IOC. IIRC of the nine women who have tried I don’t think anyone made past the third day. Is this Ranger School far different than Marine IOC or could someone explain the difference to a civilian?

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  • September 10, 2015 at 9:35 pm
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    OORAH for the lady Rangers! I still do not want a female thrown into my fireteam or platoon. A bad mix in a situation where emotions and hormones run high already, and the inherent problems of the mix in NON-COMBAT organizations are well known and front page all too often.

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  • September 10, 2015 at 5:45 pm
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    I am going to weigh in on two points here.

    First, “ranger qualified” is in fact official army terminology for tabbed graduates who are not part of the Regiment with “ranger” being reserved only for those in the 75th, same as the V/U MOS distinction (see AR 614-200). However, in informal circumstances I’ve seen ranger used to refer to any graduate, or even while in school by the RIs to all candidates (it stops being motivation after the first few times you hear it).

    That said, a lot (though by no means all) of current or former regiment guys are sensitive about this (I should know it seems like all the ones who move over to the guard end up in the one ABN IN unit we have), and will chew your ass for improper usage whether spoken, or on internet forums it seems.

    There are a few grey areas (e.g. LRS guys can join the 75th Ranger Regiment Association due to the shared unit histories), but on the whole I don’t advise referring to yourself as a ranger around anyone who’s every been in the regiment, to them your just a raspberry beret with a ranger tab.

    As far as the news stories using terms like “female ranger” shouldn’t really matter, the point is they passed the school, compared to that the whole “ranger” vs “ranger qualified” thing seems like a quibble.

    Now as for that lowered standards question, there are a few things that stand out as suspicious.

    For starters. CinC stated his intent to attend graduation. We had a General as a lane grader. There was an overall high amount of attention and publicity. Candidates were given special extra training before school (including allowing failures to still complete pre-ranger). Last but not least, the hard to ignore Level of command interest

    The last one may have been unavoidable. I can tell you that I would’ve wanted two IG guys right there watching me administer that PT test, to avert bullshit bias claims.

    You’ve already covered the extra training angle pretty well, and those pre-ranger failures weren’t allowed on to the main course, not a big deal.

    As for publicity, I do think it’s a good thing their graduation was publicized by the army, I do not think we should have publicized anything before that. Doubtless Armytimes would’ve run something, but the rest of the press barely knows what ranger school is. I can remember telling my boss I was going to be gone a while so the Army could send me to ranger school, and his first thought was along the lines of: “so they need you to learn forestry?” (close enough).

    Point is (Blackhawk Down notwithstanding) rangers are not in the public eye the way that say SEALS are, and this wouldn’t have made any papers without army public affairs intervention.

    General as a lane grader? there’s no excuse for this, ’nuff said.

    As for the CinC. President is going to do what he’s going to do, if I were SecDef or SecArmy, I would have advised him not to do this, because the optics were wrong. (reinforces suspicious level of command interest, implies that the achievements of some graduates are more equal than others). Ultimately though if he was bound and determined, there was nothing that could be done about it.

    All that out of the way, I have a hard time believing that a brigades worth of RIs, and entire squads of ranger students sold their integrity just to meet a PC demand from higher, and even if a GO graded some patrols, fact of the matter is the hardest part is dealing with no food, no sleep, and hauling a heavy ass ruck everywhere through swamps and mountains, and no one denies they did that. Further the two that made it only did so after recyclying, and only 2 of 160 (.0125% compared with 45%ish class typical) passed overall. This was not the result that command wanted.

    Bottom line, after hearing first and second hand from guys at wtc’s pre-ranger and rtb my feeling is they passed fair and square. Nonetheless the army managed to cast a cloud over their achievements with their clumsy affirmative action-esque handling of the situation. This could and should have been done better, I can only hope that some senior-officers pull their heads out of their asses so this gets done right in the future.

    Reply
  • September 9, 2015 at 5:31 pm
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    And to add to the question about tabbed vs. scrolled, I’ll leave that up to the guys with that tab to call each other what they want. But if a guy who is only tabbed refers to/introduces himself as a “Ranger”, he’s being an asshat.

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    • September 9, 2015 at 10:27 pm
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      I know a lot of very proud asshats then. They’re all airborne infantrymen. They work with a former 75th Ranger, who doesn’t mind that they call themselves rangers (and he actually seems to encourage their pride).

      I dunno. Maybe the rules are just weird around here.

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  • September 9, 2015 at 5:19 pm
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    I salute the two that finished. But I agree with another writer (I believe on BBC) that the cards were stacked in their favor beforehand in terms of prep.

    I don’t really give a shit about how “valuable the slots are”. No telling how many non-infantry officers take slots that should go to deserving lower enlisted infantry soldiers. So a few women getting in is a non-issue.

    The larger issue is that with 160 slot being solicited, 113 women signing up, and 20 qualifying to start, then 3 making it out of week 1 and two graduating, this social experiment is being called a success and being used to promote integration, when it was clearly a statistical failure when one looks at where the original goalposts were placed.

    Two questions, Chris- what are your thoughts on the results of the Marine integration trials that just ended? (even WaPo couldn’t find a way to spin them as positive, and I’m pretty sure their editorial staff have all tattooed pics of the two Ranger girls on their backs in celebration by this point)

    Second, can I not see the CWW posts because of the stone age internet rules over here in my host country- in every soldiers favorite slice of heaven- or have you guys just been slapdickin’ around lately at the office?

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    • September 9, 2015 at 10:24 pm
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      As far as the women being given more prep time, I’m torn on that. I’ve heard of units working the crap out of guys before sending them to RS; is that any different from these females going through extra prep? To me, the main question is, did they attain the standards? If they did, and now people are complaining that they had extra prep time, that seems like the goalposts have been moved.

      I agree that statistically this has been a failure, but for the two individuals involved it is a tremendous success which I believe will open the doors to other qualified women. I don’t think anyone (least of all me) thought large numbers of women would graduate RS. In an interview with a female infantry soldier from the Danish Army, I wrote that if we allowed women into infantry we would likely have only small numbers who are willing, qualified and capable. I’m not surprised at the low graduation rate, but I don’t think a high graduation rate was the objective.

      I’m happy the Marine trials ended with a real, not skewed, result. The standards were upheld, no women could attain them, end of story. The Marine Corps proved our military is capable of not bowing to political pressure. Several females have graduated enlisted Marine infantry school, reportedly with the same standards as males. The females who graduated infantry school and the fact that no females graduated the officer course are both victories. Not for women, not for men, but for the Marine Corps.

      Sorry about CWW. Not sure what the deal is, but it’s on hold.

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      • September 11, 2015 at 8:45 am
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        Schools and playtime are one thing.. the Corps’ trials were as close to combat as is practicable. Where the rubber meets the road is where we find the real story. I love and respect the ladies…so, perhaps they need their own female-only units and then let ‘er rip. I keep looking back to the 60s and my time in the Mekong as a grunt.. gals in the mix ain’t happenin’ in that world.

        Reply
  • September 8, 2015 at 9:54 pm
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    Great article, just want to point out that graduating Ranger School makes you Ranger qualified, not an actual Ranger. Only those with a 75th scroll earn that title.

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    • September 8, 2015 at 10:29 pm
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      Thanks Mr. Handsome (bet you thought I didn’t speak Spanish 🙂 ). But the “you’re not a ranger unless you’re in regiment” thing has always been confusing, and the graduation of the female rangers (as they are referred to by pretty much everyone) hasn’t clarified it much. I see ranger school grads wearing ranger tabs and calling each other ranger. I worked with a former 75th officer who called non-regiment rangers rangers. I don’t know of any official title in the Army wear you get to wear the patch but aren’t allowed to refer to yourself by the title on the patch.

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      • September 9, 2015 at 12:26 pm
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        And I think that’s the thing. The Rangers who are in the regiment and now wear tan berets earned that reputation. Soldiers who wear the tab aren’t what people think of when they espouse the “elite Rangers” or talk about a “Ranger standard.”

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      • September 9, 2015 at 9:06 pm
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        I was with the 101st for 3 years, but that still doesn’t mean I’m Airborne…

        Maybe it’s an 11B thing, but we’ve never called anyone with just the tab “Ranger”, just “Ranger qualified”. Only those who have worn the scroll get that title. Must be an unofficial thing…I know it’s confusing, but there’s a pretty big difference, and seems to confuse a lot of people.

        But I’m not trying to take away from the accomplishments of the 2 females who graduated, nor your article, just trying to clarify as people constantly get them mixed up. I’m 110% on the same page with the rest of your piece brother.

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        • September 9, 2015 at 10:14 pm
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          Understood, thanks Guapo. I think the “they shouldn’t be called rangers” thing is really just consensus, though. Is there any rule or regulation that says a tabbed ranger shouldn’t be called a ranger? Even in RS, the students are called rangers (or so I’ve been told).

          To go back to your airborne analogy: if someone goes to jump school, passes and gets their jump wings, is there a rule that says they shouldn’t be called “airborne” because they’re not in the 82nd?

          Some RIs were never in the regiment. So a Ranger School cadre with a tab doesn’t deserve to be called a ranger?

          It’s not just confusing, it’s contradictory and seems to mainly be based on a desire to not offend rangers from the regiment.

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          • September 10, 2015 at 6:53 pm
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            I guess it comes down to this: A Ranger School grad and someone who graduated RIP/RASP to join a special operations unit are very different things. To have the same term for both would be confusing (too late right?). Maybe I’m out of my lane and my experiences have been biased due to serving with 75th vets, but even out tabbed PL’s and CO’s would correct a new joe who called them Rangers.

            But if someone is a 5 jump chump who has never served in a jump unit and calls themselves a “paratrooper”, they’re a douche- even if that’s technically true. Maybe it comes down more to tradition than anything else.

            6 years of gruntlife has brainwashed the shit out of me.

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          • September 10, 2015 at 9:44 pm
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            I hear you, brother. And I’m really not arguing, just pointing out that at some point the hair-splitting gets a little ridiculous.

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      • September 13, 2015 at 1:27 am
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        So, will Haver tell people she is a Ranger or an Apache pilot? And Griest, is she Military Police or a Ranger? Get your head out of your ass…those of us from the 75th are Rangers -we’re not Infantry, we’re not paratroopers, we’re not ‘Ranger qualified until we pass schools… People can call you whatever they want, doesn’t mean you are…If you pass the police academy but then go take a job as a fire inspector are you a cop?

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    • September 10, 2015 at 8:58 pm
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      Thank you for pointing that out. I wish folks would stop calling these women “Rangers”. They are not Rangers, but simply completed Ranger school.

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  • September 8, 2015 at 5:21 pm
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    I second that Chris!!

    Reply

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